British cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best new recipe books championing local produce and British classics

Explore the best of contemporary British cuisine with Time Out's selection of the top British cookbooks. We'll be updating this page with more British cookbook reivews shortly.

The London Cookbook

Jenny Linford, Metro Publications, £14.99

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Jenny Linford has not done the obvious thing and coerced a predictable crowd of high-profile chefs to supplement her own recipes in this guide-cum-cookbook. Linford was one of the first people to guide gourmet tours of the capital’s foodie enclaves, and so instead she features artisan producers, shopkeepers and lesser-known Londoners, showing a side of our vibrant food scene rarely seen in glossy magazines.

We learn the secret of Nordic Bakery’s gloriously sticky buns – a hefty dose of cardamom to underpin the more obvious cinnamon – and how to make West Indian-style marmalade with treacle. Contributions come from Polish, Turkish, Indian, Japanese and African cooks, a surprising number of American expats, and Linford's own multicultural family.

Sometimes we’re left wondering who these people are and why they were chosen, but this book charms as an ingress to the unfamiliar shops, stalls, cafés and ingredients you may have previously walked straight past. A reminder of what makes London living great.

Jenni Muir, Time Out London Issue 2004: January 15-21 2009

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The New English Table

Rose Prince, Fourth Estate,£25

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Some new cookery titles are essentially gastro-porn, filled with lush shots of aspirational dishes you know you’ll never cook, made from ingredients you know you’ll never find – and which would cost a bomb even if you did. Others – increasingly few, it seems, given book publishers’ over-reliance on telly chef tie-ins – are proper kitchen books, made to spend time on the kitchen table, getting slopped with cake batter and egg yolk and becoming increasingly dog-eared with use.

This book is the latter type. As in her previous books, ‘The New English Kitchen’ and ‘The Savvy Shopper’, Prince gives plenty of no-nonsense advice about sourcing top-quality ingredients in their season and then how to cook them simply. In this third book she focuses on store-cupboard basics that help keep food bills low, and which can be augmented by a few ‘splurge’ ingredients – a kind of ‘frugal and the feast’ approach.

Some of her recipes have been gleaned from food producers she’s met and written about in her column for The Daily Telegraph, some are family classics, others are the result of home-style kitchen economy (you won’t find Prince dismissing leftovers as unsexy). Many of the recipes have a vaguely nostalgic air. Indeed, it’s a book that chimes with the ‘new austerity’ ethos of buying wisely and making it last – advice that’s relevant whatever the political weather, and even more so as economic skies continue to darken.

Susan Low

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